Addiction Center Patients Exposed in Privacy Snafu

Infosecurity Magazine | April 23, 2019

A large trove of personally identifiable information (PII) has been leaked by an addiction treatment center after researchers found another unsecured Elasticsearch database online. Justin Paine, who is also a director of trust and safety at Cloudflare, blogged about his findings late last week, claiming to have found the offending database via a simple Shodan search. As the data trove required no authentication to access, he was able to scroll through the 1.45GB of information. Although there were nearly five million documents contained in the database, they related in the end to around 146,000 unique patients. Paine traced them back to Pennsylvania-based addiction treatment center Steps to Recovery. “A leak of PII related to 146,316 unique patients would be bad on any day. It's particularly bad when it is something as sensitive as a addiction rehab center. Given the stigma that surrounds addiction this is almost certainly not information the patients want easily accessible,” he argued. What could a malicious user do with this data? Based on the patient name it was simple to locate all medical procedures a specific person received, when they received those procedures, how much they were billed, and at which specific facility they received treatment.

Spotlight

Many cyber-attacks involve ransomware, a form of malicious software or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid and a decryption key (commonly called a decryptor) is given to the victim. The encryption is virtually unbreakable without the decryption key, and you should not spend valuable time seeking a way around the encryption if you are attacked with it. Ransomware can spread in multiple ways, but most typically, through phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website. Ransomware can be catastrophic to healthcare and other organizations, preventing critical information and systems for patient care from being accessed, for example.

Spotlight

Many cyber-attacks involve ransomware, a form of malicious software or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid and a decryption key (commonly called a decryptor) is given to the victim. The encryption is virtually unbreakable without the decryption key, and you should not spend valuable time seeking a way around the encryption if you are attacked with it. Ransomware can spread in multiple ways, but most typically, through phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website. Ransomware can be catastrophic to healthcare and other organizations, preventing critical information and systems for patient care from being accessed, for example.

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